Time Care represents a new concept in scheduling. The two cornerstones of Time Care are staffing according to load and working hours according to individual preference. Time Care is an hour based system without a fixed schedule. The software is a tool for long term scheduling, but can also be used for flextime.
Time Care was first designed for hospitals, but can also be used in a variety of other work settings. The strength of the concept is its ability to consider the interests of the employer the employees and the customer.
Specification of requirements
To meet the demands of the work, the staffing requirements must be analysed and defined in detail. A specification of requirements must be set out, which hour by hour for a week or another relevant period denotes minimum and maximum staffing requirements. The length of the schedule can be varied over the year, e.g. a 12-week schedule over summer and a 2-week schedule over Christmas and New Year.
Every employee is expected to provide preferences about working hours for a given period, the length of which is determined by the staff. A free choice of starting time and length of the individual shifts is permitted. It is also possible to veto certain hours to allow for private interests; childcare, dentist visits, courses etc. Hence, every employee designs his/her own schedule for each period. This means that each individual’s schedule can be quite different from one period to another.
The computer will match all employees’ preferences against the specification of requirements. Discrepancies (diffs) are identified and corrected. Preferred shifts are primarily modified on a voluntary basis. The computer will staff remaining diff-hours. (see below)
Based on all preferences, it is possible to determine every hour’s popularity. The popularity of a given hour, e.g. Tuesday 8 - 9 am, can vary from one week to another depending on the preferences. The popularity is translated to an hour index value, assigning a high value to unpopular hours and vice versa. Employees working during high value hours, i.e. during unpopular hours, will be given a high score. Employees can then be ranked after each schedule period. Whenever computer recruitment to unpopular hours is required, employees with a low score will be selected for duty by the computer. The basis and responsibility for staffing are entirely in the hands of the employees. Work managers are relieved from the task of determining whom to recruit to unpopular hours.
Time Care allows employees to have either a positive or negative variation from their contracted hours over a given period. This variation may be balanced during any period agreed upon with the employer. Positive variations in the Time bank can be adjusted after acute changes of staffing or application of flexitime.
Time Care can integrate traditional, regular schedules with the new flexible schedules described. Hence, each individual can choose between these alternatives.
This is how Time Care works
Time Care is a computer-based scheduling program, that takes into consideration both needs of the employer and the requests of the individual users concerning working hours.
Step 1. All employees register individual requests for working hours fo a given schedule period. It is also possible to register vetoes for hours where, for some reason, you do not wish to or are unable to work. This gives each employee the possibility of designing their own personal schedule for the period.
Step 2. Together with staff, the employer defines the staffing levels of the activity. Where the work load varies, minimum and maximum staffing can be specified for each hour. This is where Time Care is at its best. And, on closer examination, there are few activities where staffing levels never vary.
Step 3. Time Care then presents a draft schedule matching staff requests with staffing levels. The users will have the oppurtunity to react to this schedule, and possibly make some changes, before the final schedule is printed. In the final schedule, the program ensures that staff will always be distributed in such a way that the minimum and maximum staffing levels will always be adhered to.
Working with Time Care
Time Care consists of different modules. Below you will find a brief description of each module.
In the Personnel module, all employees are registered with name, signature, employment number, and personal ID number. The department/unit where the person works is registered, as well as what schedule type he or she belongs to. Finally, weekly working hours and percentage of full employment are also registered for each separate person.
In the Time Rules module all information concerning time is registered. The program uses this information in order to distribute working hours fairly. It also takes into consideration rules that stem from legislation in this area. Every time rule has certain time frames attached to it. Among other things, they regulate the longest and shortest work shifts that can be scheduled, the number of veto hours allowed for the period, and the length and placement of breaks. All these parameters are changeable and should be discussed by management, union representatives and staff. If changes are necessary, perhaps there has been a change in legislation or the department has received new tasks, these parameters are easily adjusted in the program.
In the Staffing Levels module, the minimum and maximum number of a particular category of staff that is needed to satisfactorily perform the work is specified. This is done for each hour of the working day for the period concerned. There is a copy function to make this task easier.
In cases when the work load fluctuates from day to day, the minimum and maximum staffing levels are easily changed for those particular days. This way a whole schedule period can be tailored to suit the needs of the activity. That period can then be used as a model for new periods.
When all basic data have been registered, the program is ready to receive the individual requests. Each user enters his or her own requests concerning working hours for the schedule period. Veto hours, if any, are also entered at this time.
When all requests have been entered, the program will calculate and print a draft schedule. This schedule will be likely to contain differences between staff requests and staffing levels. These difference can be solved in on or two ways. Either by employees voluntarily agreeing to deviations from their original requests, or by leaving it up to the program to redistribute working hours so that all differences are solved (so-called computer recruitment).
When the final schedule is calculated the program ensures that staff working hours correspond fully to staffing levels. The program will move work shifts according to a fariness principle that can briefly be described as follows: Someone who previously has often had popular work shifts will be the first to be computer recruited to solve differences. What constitutes popular work shifts is decided by the members of the personnel group, through their requests.